CPTSD : Life through a straw

drink with straw
Life through a straw is one way I describe CPTSD. Read on, allow me to elaborate. Photo from Pixabay

Each and everyone of us who walks on this earth has been plopped down at the grand buffet that is life. It is an enormous seemingly endless table. On this table is every variety of taste, sight, sound, smell, experience, joy and sorrow. You are allowed to take whatever you can from the table – there is only one real rule is that you have to keep moving and you can’t go back to something you missed. So think carefully before you pass something up.

Now, imagine you have cptsd from childhood neglect or trauma. In essence that means you have been handed a straw. And same as anyone else you can eat from the enormous buffet that is life. The catch is, you can only taste something if it will fit through the straw.

And, initially, you are fine with this. Because to you it doesn’t seem like a restriction or a limit, it is just the way things are. It is normal. And you know that your straw can be taken away from you by anyone at any time. So you treasure it, and you think how lucky you are that you aren’t left with nothing. You might be hungry, but you won’t die of starvation. That’s a good thing. That’s enough.

You sample your way down the table. As a child you take what you can find. At first the things that fall from the table. The items that hang over the edge. Things your fingers can just reach at the edge of this massive groaning board. Some things you yearn to try, but you know they won’t fit through your straw. You don’t ask for any help because if someone notices you, they could – no they would – take your straw away. You know that for certain. So better to be silent and hang at the fringes of the crowd as you all pass by the table each taking and sampling what they can, what they like.

Years pass and you grow taller. And as you grow you can see more and more of what is on the table. And with your straw you diligently gather what you can. It doesn’t matter that it is the cold oatmeal that congeals at the edges, this is life and you have never known anything else. So you have your straw, and things are good enough. You don’t worry. You don’t want better. Because you don’t know better exists.

One day though you notice that not everyone has a straw. Most people have these large vessels they call plates if they are flat or bowls if they are round. Some people have long metal skewers they use to reach the tastiest things that sit at the farthest distance. Some folk just grab from the table with huge hands shoving indiscriminately whatever they can grasp into their mouth.

Then you notice more. There are groups that seem to roam the table together. The bigger people help those smaller to reach things. They even let the little people ride on their shoulders so they can see more. Some people march by with massive platters heaped high with only one thing, some have loaded baskets to feed others and some have sampled nearly everything on the table.

You suddenly realize you have a straw and how limited it is. Looking back along the table now you can see that it fades into the horizon. The table was heaped with variety and pleasures that you never imagined. It doesn’t matter that you know much of it could never have fit through your straw, even if you had known it was there, it is the knowledge of how limited you are that threatens to break you.

So you stand at a crux. Do you quit the table? Do you continue in the knowledge of all the life you will never taste while you only have a straw? Or, do you risk it all to ask for better?

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